Do you have a hard time keeping to an exercise routine? Most people do — all the time I hear about my students starting up with fitness, but then dropping off after a few weeks of good effort. And, I also see lots of quasi fitness-buffs working out in 3 months spurts, then calling it quits only to do it again 3 months later. Here I am going to reveal a program that works for everyone, no matter your age or fitness level, and roots exercise as a lifelong habit.
I will not be talking about diet here. Not one inch. Eat however you would like during this program. Its goal is to make this habit automatic and effort free, that is all it cares about accomplishing.
Brief disclaimer: Let me state that I am not a nutritionist, physical therapist, doctor, or anything of that nature. I have no expertise in this area other than my own life-experience, and please, consult your physician before beginning any workout, fitness, diet, or health routine mentioned on this website.
Also, here’s what I’m assuming about you: You have no physical impediments to basic exercise, you are overweight, you smoke, you eat like crap, you are sedentary, and you have no prior experience in athletics.
=> Why do we quit?
The straight-out, honest, almost universal answer for this is simply, pride. We bite off more than we can chew. People set a target that, while low compared to what they “used” to be able to do, or is low compared to where they “want” to be — but the simple truth is, this target is too high. Really, you need to set something that is SO low, you are barely breaking a sweat, comfortable most of the time, and hardly noticing that you’re working out.
But people don’t do that, because starting there is some sort of blow to their ego. You just have to dump that. Realize, exercise is making a demand on your body. Like anything else, demands go across better if they are delivered politely. If you are polite with your body, your body will be loyal to you. Be rude to your body, and you’ll just get your ass kicked. Literally.
Secondly, its about some key things in the mind that have to change.
Aesthetic Goal vs. Lifestyle Change: Most people work out because they want to look a certain way. This is good, I have no issue with you working out to loose the chubby thighs or get the six-pack abs. But, that can’t be your baseline motivation. With working out, you have to make a commitment to fitness itself, or else you will quit when results don’t come fast enough, or you’ll stop when you start to look better and then loose all your gains. Make a commitment to fitness by taking some time, RIGHT NOW, to sit down, and do a benefits/cons list. On one hand, list all the benefits of fitness you can think of (increased energy, greater lifespan, feeling lighter, less sickness, etc). On the other hand, also lists all the downsides of not being fit, and be brutally honest, (being fat for the rest of your life, various forms of cancer and disease, dependency and humiliation in old age, brittle bones, etc).
Do it. Do it now. Do it.
Welcome back! Remember, the weight will come off, it really will, the arms will buff up, they really will, but only if you stick with it, and make “sticking with it” your primary goal.
Exercise vs. Movement: I want you to strike the word exercise from your vocabulary, and drop it entirely from your perspective. Exercise is something you associate with the two things that will kill you in goal achievement — pain and labor. Exercise isn’t really your goal, movement is. Your body is designed to move, most of the time, throughout the day. Modern man has become like a zoo animal. Even “movement” has been boxed up and put on artificial treadmills, guided nautilus lifting machines, sanitized and cleansed, relegated to its time and place. So, each time you say or think exercise, remind yourself of this desired shift, with movement being the main goal. And then take a second to stretch, or walk around your cube-isles. This little mental trick goes a long way.
=> The program:
Let me dispell a myth — most of us do not need fancy equipment or gym memberships to get where we really want to be. For this program, all you will need is a cheap ipod or mp3 player with some headphones, and a pull-up bar. If you have a park with a playground where you live, and these have monkey-bars, that’s all you need. If you don’t have one, get one, and put it in an archway of your house.
Now, this program calls for the most dreaded think, working out after waking up. If you don’t have time, you just have to get off your ass and make the sacrifices necessary to make time. Trust me, if you amp up your metabolism right away in the morning, you don’t have to do much at all to get great results. But, I guarantee you, this won’t hurt you if you DO it right. To help yourself, put your alarm clock across the room, sleep in your workout clothes, and put your sneakers (or whatever you are using), next to the alarm clock.
Week Zero: I want you to start by simply walking for 15 minutes each morning, right after waking. To make it fun, you can bring a rubber bouncy-ball if you want, making a game of bouncing it and catching it while you walk, and listen to some good music. Remember, MOVEMENT is our ultimate goal. Just movement. Just moving. No calorie goals, no weight goals, no run times, no bench-press targets — just a comittment to movement. After the first few days, you’ll experience a lift in your mood that will help anchor this habit.
Second, go to this website and read about their program:
You will find the mp3 files you need below:
You will follow this program, first thing in the morning, from week 1 to week 9. The genius is in the slowly graduated interval training, where we are physically told when to start and when to stop. This is the key to making this a lifelong habit.
But here’s the clincher — I want you to DOUBLE up the weeks. So, do week 1 for two weeks, week 2 for two weeks, etc. This will take you a total of 18 weeks. However, where the program calls for 3 days a week, I want you to shoot for 6 days a week. SIX?!?!? Yes, six. Pick your day off, and pick a treat you only get that day. You get it if you do it each day. If you miss one or more, you don’t. Also, do not move on to the next step in the program until you have completed all that week’s days, for at least one week. To clarify, if you are on week 2 in the couch-to-5-kilometer program, then don’t move on to week three in that program until you have done both of the following: Done that step for at least two weeks, and at least one of those weeks was for 6 consecutive days. If you’re missing a day, you might THINK it was scheduling or tiredness or something, but its really a sign from your body that you’re not ready to move forward yet. Listen to it. That’s why we’re slowing it down. So we can keep it up!
Now, this program will get you up to three miles a day, running, each morning, almost painlessly.
Do you think you’re gonna see results? Ayup. And, you’ll KEEP it UP because you made POLITE demands on your body. If you miss a day, don’t kick yourself, just get back at it. And, repeat until you complete — no week 2 if you haven’t done week two’s program for 6 straight days, for example.
Now, for the strength part.
When you have completed week 3 of the Couch-to-5-kilometers program (ahem, that’s NOT three weeks of running, remember? Its when you have done the week 3 program for two weeks, and at least one of those weeks was for 6 days straight) — you will move in for some muscle work.
First, go here and watch this you tube video three times, pay attention to where he talks about FORM:
Now, beginning here, you will do the pushups, situps, and assisted pull-ups when you come home, RIGHT when you come home, before dinner. This is a second boost to your metabolism, and you will REALLY see the results in that second boost. However, you only want to do this three evenings a week (for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), with one down day in-between each one.
The key here is, I want you to set NO targets. None. Not even ONE itty-bitty little target. I want you to commit only to doing three sets of these. Pay attention to your form FIRST. If that starts to slip, stop. If you start to experience pain or discomfort, stop. What you will find is that, if you track it, over time, you will simply increase naturally. But, it will be a jolted, upsy-downsy line. The trend-fit will be up, but you’ll have good days and bad days. This is how your body naturally develops — this is why people stop with strength training. They put their body under a constant upward movement pressure that it can’t stick with.
And, because you’ve concentrated so much on form, this development will be stronger than just throwing some arbitrary weights around. Most people never pay attention to form. Most people face the price. Don’t be like them, train yourself now to care first about form, and your results will show the difference over time.
=> When you’re done
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS. You’ve now done something which 90% of humanity will never do — under solely self-motivation, you’ve anchored movement as a lifelong habit.
And now, you’re truly READY to begin with more serious running, or some actual weight lifting, or martial arts, or swimming, or ALL of the above. For more strength training, I recommend scrawny to brawny, which you can find in the lexicon.
As my personal reward to you for having the courage to begin this program, the discipline to follow it step-by-step, and the strength to see it through, if you send me some before and after pictures, I will post them and give you some honors (I’ll try to post these once a quarter).
SO GET OUT THERE AND MOVE, PEOPLE!